The common goal of a thought experiment is to explore the potential consequences of the principle in question: "A thought experiment is a device with which one performs an intentional, structured process of intellectual deliberation in order to speculate, within a specifiable problem domain, about potential consequents (or antecedents) for a designated antecedent (or consequent)" (Yeates, 2004, p. Examples of thought experiments include Schrödinger's cat, illustrating quantum indeterminacy through the manipulation of a perfectly sealed environment and a tiny bit of radioactive substance, and Maxwell's demon, which attempts to demonstrate the ability of a hypothetical finite being to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
where the emphasis was on the conceptual, rather than on the experimental part of a thought-experiment.
Thought experiments have been used in philosophy (especially ethics), physics, and other fields (such as cognitive psychology, history, political science, economics, social psychology, law, organizational studies, marketing, and epidemiology).
In law, the synonym "hypothetical" is frequently used for such experiments.
In law, they were well-known to Roman lawyers quoted in the Digest.
In physics and other sciences, notable thought experiments date from the 19th and especially the 20th century, but examples can be found at least as early as Galileo.
Prior to its emergence, the activity of posing hypothetical questions that employed subjunctive reasoning had existed for a very long time (for both scientists and philosophers).
However, people had no way of categorizing it or speaking about it.
Much later, Ernst Mach used the term Gedankenexperiment in a different way, to denote exclusively the imaginary conduct of a real experiment that would be subsequently performed as a real physical experiment by his students.Niels Bohr asserted a refutation of Einstein's analysis immediately, and his view prevailed.After some decades, it was asserted that feasible experiments could prove the error of the EPR paper.Thought experiments have been used in a variety of fields, including philosophy, law, physics, and mathematics.In philosophy, they have been used at least since classical antiquity, some pre-dating Socrates.Strange then, as Cohen says, that philosophers and scientists alike refuse to acknowledge either Galileo in particular, or the thought experiment technique in general for its pivotal role in both science and philosophy.(The exception proves the rule — the iconoclastic philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend, has also observed this methodological prejudice.) Instead, many philosophers prefer to consider 'Thought Experiments' to be merely the use of a hypothetical scenario to help understand the way things are.Regardless of their intended goal, all thought experiments display a patterned way of thinking that is designed to allow us to explain, predict and control events in a better and more productive way.In terms of their theoretical consequences, thought experiments generally: Thought experiments can produce some very important and different outlooks on previously unknown or unaccepted theories.or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences.Given the structure of the experiment, it may not be possible to perform it, and even if it could be performed, there need not be an intention to perform it.